Lyft shares surge over 20% in market debut

Dwayne Harmon
March 30, 2019

Lyft and Uber have been classified as independent contractors, claiming that most drivers prefer the flexible work arrangement, even if it offers fewer benefits and less job security.

High demand for the offering pushed up the range of Lyft's stock pricing, well north of its original targeted range of $62-68. The company's executives made stops in cities such as New York, Baltimore, Kansas and Los Angeles.

Wall Street was so eager to get in on the IPO that it was willing to overlook - at least, for now - the massive $911 million loss it incurred in 2018 on $2.2 billion in revenue as Lyft cuts prices to grow its business.

Ives of Wedbush Securities said Lyft may benefit from the missteps of Uber, but that it may face a rocky road with the emergence of Waymo, the former Google auto unit which is launching its autonomous taxi service.

The company was founded by CEO Logan Green and President John Zimmer in 2007.

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Lyft marks the first big IPO in a while due to the volatile end to 2018 and the five-week partial government shutdown, which ended in January.

The IPO, in which Lyft is offering 32.5 million shares, has been so hot it was oversubscribed on the second day of its roadshow last week. The company has not laid out a timeline for when it will turn a profit, but stock investors have shown patience in the past if they feel the growth will pay off, with companies like Amazon staying in the red until years after its IPO. Indeed, Lyft has acknowledged it may be many more years before it starts making money, especially if its efforts to lower costs by developing a fleet of self-driving cars don't pan out. They can take public transport, walk, take a taxi or, perhaps, order an Uber.

Lyft, as of December, had 39 percent market share in the United States, up from 35 percent early previous year. We generated Bookings of $1.9 billion, $4.6 billion and $8.1 billion in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, representing year-over-year growth of 141% from 2016 to 2017 and 76% from 2017 to 2018.

Lyft's appeal to investors was based on the potential for the ride-hailing industry's expansion as well as its own growing revenue. Uber is in more than 70 countries, although it has consolidated certain overseas markets, while Lyft has stuck to the United States and Canada.

Stocks are holding on to broad gains at midday Friday, led by industrial companies and chipmakers.

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